Learning to lead the fight against corruption

Last week many of us experienced strong emotions in a very short space of time in Vilnius, Lithuania. A group of people from different countries and backgrounds joined the Transparency International School on Integrity with a common commitment to make a change in society by combating corruption.

I would like to share my own experience: I travelled from Mexico City to Lithuania this summer with the purpose of learning about the tools needed to fight corruption. It’s a long way to go and there is a lot of literature about corruption, so why not just buy a book? There’s a good answer and many good reasons to attend the School on Integrity.

At the school I learned  not only about the macro foundation tools to fight corruption like the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the Anti-Corruption Plain Language Guide, but also the different elements to measure it such as the Corruption Perception Index, the Global Corruption Barometer and the Bribe Payers Index.

I reviewed how anti-corruption is tackled in the private and public sectors and in other regions of the world. Furthermore, I studied the micro elements to combat corruption and gained knowledge to develop new and creative tools to promote the change that will bring positive effects to society, like becoming a social entrepreneur.

The summer school surpassed my wildest of imaginations both in terms of the quality of lecturers and content taught. It was so intellectually empowering and the topics that were covered are very relevant and useful.

The organisation, seriousness and attention to minute detail still impress me up to this very day. The environment was very conducive to learning. All participants had an opportunity to engage and interact with each other, with all expert lecturers, to network and indeed built strong ties with each other.” – Dumisani Mthombeni, Zimbabwe

Anybody can be a social entrepreneur and make his/her voice heard through social sanctions, advocacy, non-violent activities and grassroots initiatives carried out by citizens to change society’s behaviour and end  corruption.

I met people with a strong sense of responsibility and generosity who want to make this world better; people who grasp the importance of transnational cooperation in order to deal with the challenges posed by corruption.

I also learned the valuable trait of humility and enjoyed the opportunity to learn from high-level speakers who are the best qualified in their subject.

During my time at the school I had the opportunity to network with other students and speakers who were very willing to help in our projects and share ideas. I gained leadership skills like motivation, empathy, collaboration, creativity and the ability to inspire – these cannot be learned through books. I understood that when you volunteer and try to be a change-maker, you are making a statement about the kind of community you want to live in.

I was so inspired and happy to see so many passionate youths (with a common goal) from all over the world gathered in one place. Without doubt the youth is a very relevant stakeholder in the fight against corruption.

We hold the future in our hands and we should be part of the solution finding process. Let’s make use of our majority and let our voices be heard, ‘SAY NO TO CORRUPTION’.

We must demand transparency, accountability, integrity and all other values that promote good/open governance. If ever we are to be future leaders, we must and we need to act responsibly today.”  – Dumisani Mthombeni

Integrity School participant Dumisani Mthombeni in action.

At the school I learned to stay committed to my set of values all the time, even in those moments that are private and not in the public eye. To be at the school was about learning how to make leadership a habit.

So you could say my experience in Lithuania was about personal growth: I am this today and I can become something different and better tomorrow.

Now that I am back in my country, I feel inspired to never stop questioning, never stop feeling that the governance system can be improved. I encourage everyone to be part of this experience and not miss the opportunity to be a student at the next Transparency International School on Integrity.

Veronica Portugal Chavez and Dumisani Mthombeni both attended the 2014 Transparency International Integrity School in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Carousel image: Copyright, Transparency International School on Integrity

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